After a recent trip to Beaujoloais, Ben, Manager at Majestic Wilmslow, reflects on the region and it’s wines…
Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Beaujolais area in order to meet some of our suppliers and to learn a bit more about the often overlooked wine of the area. We were staying right next door to the Mont Brouilly, an extremely picturesque part of southern Burgundy.
Beaujolais has suffered recently, struggling to reclaim the sort of popularity it enjoyed during the 1980’s and early 1990’s when Beaujolais Nouveau parties were almost de rigeur. Producers such as Georges Dubouef have made success for themselves by producing very young and light wines with the hallmark characteristics of banana and bubblegum, which don’t appeal to all. These wines have become synonymous with Beaujolais and yet they are not a true representation of the potential of the region.
The 2009 vintage in Beaujolais has received much attention, in the UK press especially, which has led to a mini-revival in the fortunes of the region’s wines. When speaking to the actual winemakers it became apparent that the main factor they attribute recent success to, is an overall improvement and change of attitude towards the winemaking side of things. Without being overtly technical, prolonged maceration, extended fermentation in stainless steel and some cask ageing has led to a much more serious wine in bottle with greater depth and complexity, which can even age a few years.
Aside from the great variety of wines we were fortunate to try (including a 1991 Beaujolais Villages and a sparkling Gamay..interesting let’s say), the other main highlight of the trip was the local food. The region is noted for its excellent gastronomy, and going back to my French roots, I was not afraid to try delicacies such as kidneys cooked in Beaujolais wine, Andouillette (veal stomach cooked in white wine with mustard – much nicer than it sounds!) along with several forms of goats cheese.
The two wines I would recommend from the trip are:
Chateau La Terriere Beaujolais Villages – Actually from vines designated for the Regnie Cru but labeled as Villages for the UK market. Depth, supple tannins and refreshing summer fruits. Slightly chilled.
Brouilly Maison Neuves – From a 5th generation winemaker, using much more traditional techniques such as concrete vat fermentation. Earthy and spicy on the palate and broader in texture.